Christmas in Holland


In the Netherlands St. Nicholas is known as Sinterklaas. Dutch children are told that he sails from Spain on his feast day, December 6. They fill their shoes with hay and sugar for his horse and awake to find them filled with gifts such as nuts and candy. Sometimes Sinterklaas appears in person in the children's homes, bearing a striking resemblance to the children's father or an uncle. He questions the children about their behavior during the past year. In the past he carried a birch rod, but these days he is more kindly.

The people of Twente in east Holland hold a special Advent ceremony in which special horns are blown to chase away evil spirits and to announce the birth of Christ. Horns are homemade out of one-year-old saplings and are three or four feet long. Blown over wells, they sound a deep tone, similar to a foghorn.


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